5 Ways to SIMPLIFY and IMPROVE your Landscape Photography

If there’s one thing that really puts me
off doing landscape photography it is the wind and it’s extremely windy today
so I thought would stay in the office and give you some tips about how you can
simplify your images and improve them we’re gonna talk a little bit about
composition as well so Adam this is first man photography let’s go!! one thing
virtually all my workshop clients are looking to improve on is composition and
a good way to do that is to simplify your image so I wanted to give you these
five tips to help you do that. generally speaking simplifying things is a good
thing anyway and it’s true in photography as well but we’re not really
thinking about removing things from images and making it a plain image, what
we’re actually talking about is simplifying the story and to do that you
first need to know what the story is what are you trying to convey to the
viewer? what emotions are you trying to evoke? what is your story? that’s where
the art comes from that’s where it becomes your work and your experience of
that landscape. Being in touch with your feelings is an important part of this
it’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth giving it a try when we arrive at
the scene the first thing we want to think about is pretty much the stuff we
talked about last week what is your subject where is the good
light what are the interesting things in the scene in front of you. Once we’ve done that we’re then starting to think about composition it’s here where we really
want to start to try and simplify the image now the first one just because I
absolutely love it is to use long exposure so we’ve got a few images here
and this is the first one it’s a image of a small town on the west coast of
Scotland called Glenelg and it’s kind of fairly isolated through this mountain
road and the whole village has a feel that people just do what they need to do
to get by it has a slightly industrial feel but it’s also set in an absolutely
beautiful landscape and that’s the emotion and the feeling I was trying to
evoke there are a few things that are working for this image to really make
that story work and make it the image work firstly it has leading lines of
this jetty which just leads you nicely up to the mountain in the middle there
and that mountain is also kind of framed by these ones
beside that don’t have quite as much snow. Now, long exposure is what I’ve used
here this is about two and a half minutes I think what it does with the
long exposure is just remove the detail from the water and the sky and that just
places focus back down into the jetty and the mountain which is what the story
is all about if we just flick over to a the test exposure that I took you can
see how that’s working for you because there’s a lot more detail in the water
it’s quite smooth anyway and quite interesting but that’s just not what the
story was about so I have simplified that and removed that little hair that
was on the sensor as well and it’s just made it’s a much better image what I’ve
also done in this image is to make it black and white and that is another way
an extra way that we can simplify our images as well it doesn’t mean every
black and white image will simplify because it’s got to work for the image
if we got back to this color image the color is detracting from the story here
because you’ve kind of got the Browns and the the white and it isn’t
particularly colourful image but the mornings that nice soft morning light
has produced some beautiful tones in the image and if you look at the light on
the metal here and here and on the hills as well and the reflections when you
make that into black and white it’s just picked up those tones so
beautifully and I just think it works really well I’ve then added a blue toner
as well and again that was to further that story of that industrial cold
winter’s day feeling and that’s why I think that story works. Now the second
way of simplifying our images is to use negative space and all that is is a bit
like this image here where you’ve got a large amount of background and one color
often that just puts all the emphasis back on to the subject of your
image and here the subject of my image are these groins here. This is a
Spurn Point which is on the east coast of England it’s very remote very
isolated and a little bit neglected and that’s the sort of emotion I wanted to
evoke here so I’ve again used a long exposure as well and it’s just created
this sort of white area all around the image here and then all that focus goes
back on to these groins and you can see how they’re broken and tipping over and
it just it gives that kind of feeling of being a bit rejected and not looked
after. Now the third way is to isolate the subject this is a really important
one because it’s used in so much of photography if you think about portrait
photography we can do that by blowing out the background and having a nice
blurred bouquet background or we in the studio setting we have a plain white
grey or black background or a color one it can also work in landscape
photography and we can achieve it in quite a few ways which include using a
long lens to get those kind of intimate shots right in onto the detail onto the
subject but we can also do it by using light and contrast and that’s exactly
what I’ve done in this shot here this was taken on my journey you’re a Welsh
mountain as I was walking up and hiking up the Sun came through a small gap in
the mountain very momentarily and lit up this tree and by lighting up the tree
like it has done here it’s then I’ve managed to use the
contrast the natural contrast in the image to really make that subject
stand out, isolate it against the background. The light didn’t last for
long and when it went away this is what the scene looked like so this is now
just a very flat there’s no contrast there’s no light on the tree and that
tree just blends into that background and the image is just completely lost
and it doesn’t work so the next one is less is not always more in fact kind of
contradictory but it’s about simplifying the image versus simplifying the story so
let’s have a look at this image that I took in Glencoe
so at the time when I put this video out I couldn’t decide whether I liked this
image better or the image where I’ve removed the road and you can see just
the the road down in the bottom corner here I’ve just cloned that out using
Photoshop I actually think in this image with the road removed the composition is
slightly better and it works slightly better however it’s not simplifying the
story. Although we’ve removed the road, made the image more straightforward and
simple, it’s complicated story it’s done that by
firstly pretty much deceiving the viewer about the image
because there is a road there it also removes the hint of the location where I
am in Glencoe and then most importantly it just completely kills the
scale of that shot because if we then click back over to the road being there
you can it just gives just a sheer scale the story just works a lot better with
the road there beautiful winter’s day in Glencoe gives scale to the mountain and
that is so the story in that one. So this next one is a similar sort of thing this is Roseberry topping in
North Yorkshire a place that’s very very special to me and this image sort of
shows what a beautiful summer’s day it is warm light and the composition
works really well because we have this leading line of the path just leading us
around the scene up to Roseberry topping and then if we follow this nice so a
triangular shape up to the sun you get the Sun setting as well and I think it just
creates a feeling that you’re there in that quiet special moment. just to show
an example of where removing things and making the image have less in it, doesn’t
always work and all i’ve done just to show that is just to crop out the
heather at the bottom, its exactly the same image just with that heather cropped out
and immediately the story is lost because with it could be any it could be
spring now is it summer? it is it spring? we don’t know because we’ve lost that heather,
we’ve also lost the leading line of the path it’s now a very distracting image
because this is our subject up here the lines kind of lead you over to the
right-hand side here and this light and is hitting the foreground here is
just very distracting and your view just does not naturally go up to Roseberry topping and it just doesn’t work anywhere near as well as having more detail in
the image or color in the image and that’s all adding to it so although
sometimes we say less is more but not always the case because we’re really
talking about the story rather than removing things from the image the next
tip is to crop your images now cropping is slightly controversial but I don’t
think it’s necessarily wrong in all cases and I’ll give you an example of
that here you hear a lot about getting it right in camera I don’t totally agree
with that however I do agree with it around composition because it’s really
difficult to change your composition in post-processing other than cropping you
can’t change perspective you can’t move your position and as we saw in the video
last week slightest of changes can completely change the image but there
are occasions if you have captured the correct ingredients cropping will work
and that results in a that image just being quite good
or it gives you an idea and a good reason to revisit that scene and capture
it with that new crop that you’ve discovered when looking at it on the
screen so this is a good example of that and I’ve captured all the right
ingredients but just haven’t cropped it correctly. Now I planned this shot for a
long time and it paid off pretty much but you see really most of the detail is
in this area here and you’ve got distracting elements here this bit is
distracting here and all around the side is distracting and then this bit of blue
in the clouds at the top is also slightly distracting so all I’ve done is
cropped in pretty much from every side of the image and this is the image it’s
created it’s just a much better composition and it gives the story a
much better feel because it’s all about these cliffs leading you down the
steepness down to this road that then leads you up with the cliffs on either
side to what is just a spectacular spectacular sunset and the sky is
literally on fire so that’s an example of where you can go
through your old images and apply these tips and essentially find an image in an
image maybe you use that or maybe it’s just like I say a good reason to go back
to that landscape and do it again but try and improve the images you’ve got
and then get out and try these these tips for yourself in the field
so yeah simplify your images I could talk about this all day long
check out my workshops please leave a comment down below and let me know what
you think subscribe to the channel hit the like button do everything you need
to do and I will see you on another one very very soon I’m Adam this is first
man photography Out!!!


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